Archive for May 7th, 2020

May 7, 2020

Mac Racken bridge, Mayenne!

Let me take you back to my belle France! We usually passed by many towns in our road warrior trip in my France. We come to see the hugely popular, the architecturally and historically beautiful and old, and do spent some off the beaten paths. However, seldom we see moving spots that marked our trip, this is the case of Mayenne in the department of Mayenne no 53 in the Pays de la Loire region.

There are three bridges over the Mayenne river. The pont Mac-Racken from the 19C today is the route I take the N12 to drive into Paris toll free; the bridge was done in 1834 first naming itself Ambroise de Loré, then Orléans ,Caisse d’Epargne and finally Mac Racken honouring the sacrifice of this American soldier that allow the passage of the Weaver group 90th division to cross the river in WWII to free the left bank in June 5 1944; there is a commemorating plaque there. In memoriam , the bridge is named after him.


we saw flooding Mayenne river

I like to tell you about the pont Mac Racken of Mayenne and give credit to whom credit is deservingly so.

The construction of the now call Mac-Racken Bridge began on May 15, 1824. Originally the Ambroise-de-Loré bridge, the structure will successively take the names of Pont d’Orléans, Petit Pont, Caisse de Épargne bridge and then Mac-Racken bridge The current name of the bridge is a tribute to Sergeant James Mac-Racken who, on the night of August 5, 1944, defused the 125 kg and 15 cases of dynamite that the Nazis had placed on deck. Of the three bridges that existed at the time in the city, it will be the only one that will remain after the war. On August 5, 1946, a commemorative stele bearing the inscription HERE TO SAVE THIS BRIDGE JAMES MAC RACKEN OF THE 315th BON, U.S.A. SACRIFICIA ON AUGUST 5, 1944 is posed


His name was James Dougal Mac Racken, ASN 34 881 595 – Compagny A – 315th The Enginer Combat Battalion, 90th infantry division. This American soldier sacrificed himself to defend a bridge in Mayenne, which now bears his name, on August 5, 1944.

Born June 1, 1916 in Red Spring, North Carolina ; USA, he was 28 when he landed on the Normandy beaches in June 1944. His infantry division, the 90th, was responsible for liberating Mayenne. Two out of three bridges have already been destroyed, only that of the Caisse d’Epargne (savings bank) can allow a rapid advance of the Americans. On the night of August 5, 1944, his team specializing in mine clearance had the mission of cutting the conductors, connected to a 125-kilogram bomb and 15 cases of dynamite, placed on deck by the Nazis.


This American soldier sacrificed himself to save the bridge of the Caisse d’Epargne and thus allow his comrades to liberate the city of Mayenne. Protected by two tanks, the deminers progress. Sergeant Mac Racken leaps onto the deck, uncovered, and cuts the wires. He was shot by Nazis skirmishers and machine gunners, positioned on rue Roullois. The Weaver group of the 90th division can cross the bridge. From 5h30, the progress of the Americans is general. Mayenne is conquered, then liberated.


When he died, James Mac Racken left behind a wife, Maggie, and a three-year-old daughter, Myrtis. For Christmas, the city will offer little Myrtis a doll. On each anniversary date, the city of Mayenne invites Maggie Mac Racken to attend the celebrations. But her finances did not allow her to cross the Atlantic. A North Carolina newspaper is interested in this story. Readers quickly mobilized and raised more than $ 1,500 to help the family travel to France. The information is relayed by the national branch of the newspaper, and everything is accelerating. In July 1961, seventeen years after the liberation of Mayenne, the widow Mac Racken finally went to the place of sacrifice of her husband. Amén RIP Soldier France does not forget.

There is no specific webpage for this heroic act so will give the tourist sites of  Mayenne.

The city of Mayenne on moving about town in French: City of Mayenne on moving about

The Mayenne dept 53 on the local area of Mayenne Haute Mayenne in French: Mayenne dept 53 on Mayenne Upper

The local Haute Mayenne or upper tourist office on Mayenne in English: Haute Mayenne tourist office on Mayenne

And there you go folks, nice history nice story and one not to be forgotten by all those who cherish freedom. Mayenne remembers you and so do we, the French. Thank you soldier RIP.

And remember happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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May 7, 2020

Santa Felicidade, Curitiba!

And why not stay in Brazil as memories flash on my screen. Having visited the country south and north several times and having the opportunity to lived there has kept many nice souvenirs of the country. Of course, none more than the city of Curitiba where I lived.  And having the opportunity to stay which could had change my life, but my wife was not for moving again so we stayed in France.

I have several posts on Brazil and some on Curitiba, this time will concentrate on one district, not the one I lived but I was a regular there! This is Santa Felicidade, let me tell you a bit more on it. Hope you like it as I did

Santa Felicidade is an administrative district of Curitiba, State of Paranà, Brazil. The neighborhood emerged in 1878 with the arrival of immigrants descended from the first Italian colonizers of the 14C.  The neighborhood started on the old road that connected the Curitiba to the old north of the state, which today we know as Estrada do Cerne. In its historical formation, it received a large number of settlers from northern Italy, especially from the regions of Veneto and Trento. The immigrants initially devoted themselves to the production of cheeses, wines and vegetables.

The name of the neighborhood is a tribute to a former landowner in the region in the 19C, the Portuguese Dona Felicidade Borges, who donated part of her land to Italian immigrants. In 1891, given the strong religiosity of Italian immigrants, the São José Church was built in Santa Felicidade. In 1899, the first school was built. Some buildings from that time still exist in the region, such as Casa Culpi, Casa dos Arcos, Casa dos Gerânios and Casa das Pinturas.

The Santa Felicidade Terminal is very well served by public transport that connects Santa Felicidade to several other neighborhoods in Curitiba., however my visits here were always by car, my own while living there.

Some things to see in this district of Curitiba are:

Bosque Italiano, also known as Bosque São Cristovão, (St Christopher forest) with 23,540 square meters, it houses the Italian Immigration Memorial, a tribute to the Italian immigrants who transformed the Santa Felicidade neighborhood into a gastronomic reference in Curitiba. The place has spaces for holding typical parties, tents, and a stage for presentations.

Other nice architecture from this period are the Casa Culpi built by Giovanni Baptista Culpi in 1887 to be a dry and wet residence and commerce, Casa Culpi is known as a historic building and currently belongs to the Curitiba City Hall that transformed it into a Social Assistance Reference Center (Cras ).. the Casa dos Gerânios , also known as the Nona Carolina townhouse, Casa dos Gerânios was built in 1891 by Nicolau Boscardin who was one of the first residents of the region to stand out in the neighborhood. The townhouse became known as Casa dos Gerânios because the windows were decorated with herbs and geranium bushes.


The three main roads in the neighborhood are Avenida Manoel Ribas, Alderman Toaldo Tulio and Via Vêneto, where the traditional restaurants, the bus terminal and Rua da Cidadania are located respectively. Nowadays, Santa Felicidade is home to about 30 restaurants, some with a capacity for more than a thousand places. It also has wineries, wine canteens, craft stores and wicker and reed furniture. Typical events such as the annual Polenta and Chicken Festival, at Bosque São Cristóvão, demonstrate the Italian culture traditions of Santa Felicidade.

The Curitiba Parana page has more in portuguese on Santa FelicidadeCuritiba Parana webpage on Santa Felicidade

I found this youtube video on and thought a nice addition to the post

This is still a memorable soft spot on me and really would love to visit again, at least. Hopefully you too can visited or even already had , let me know. Hope you enjoy the post on Santa Felicidade.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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May 7, 2020

Morretes, Paranà, Brazil!!!

So looking in my vault for things to write and bring to life in my blog as memory lane I dig up way south into the beautiful Brazil to find this gem .Now I have written several post on Brazil and told you lived there, worked there, and speak the language but always leave something out. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on Morretes , a town in the State of Paranà in south Brazil. One for the off the beaten path in Brazil!

The name Morretes is a geographical reference to the Morros (Portuguese for “Hills”) that surround the city. Founded in 1721 on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river , this calm and collected colonial town rests on an emerald-green plain at the foot of the Serra do Mar.  A tour of Morretes reveals a compact community of cobblestoned walkways running along the Nhundiaquara River, as well as a series of attractive colonial buildings from the 18C and 19C.

Some of the things to see here that I took a walk by are

Saint Benedict’s Church (Igreja de São Benedito).  The Church of the brotherhood of São Benedito was founded in Morretes in 1760 and brought together blacks, slaves and free people, who because of their devotions want to belong to it without distinction of sex or age , according to its statute. Almost all the oldest documents on the church was lost in a flood in the 60s. The church has a nave, tower and chancel. .The peculiarity by many visitors is that each time we go by, the church is closed!


Old Bridge (Ponte Velha).  Its structure of steel brings an old and glamorous aspect making it even more attractive. The bridge is used to pass over the Nhundiaquara river and gives access to restaurants, that I patronise and told you in my previous posts. Pedestrians share the space with cars, considering that there is just one street band. Therefore, one way car or person lol!



The one webpage in Portuguese with plenty of information on Morretes is here: Tourist office of Paranà state on Morretes

A very pleasant town with lots of traditions, and a beautiful train ride as well which I took once and the rest of the times by car as I was living in Curitiba. Hope you like the post and Morretes.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 7, 2020

Mersch for shopping!

Another memory from the vault, and why not have it in my blog. Hope you like the reading as we do.

One of the smallest but nicest countries in Europe, and one of our favorites. The fairy tale Duchy of Luxembourg, right smack in between Germany and France. Rule as head of State by Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Teresa (a native of La Habana, Cuba) with five children including the heir prince Guillaume. I come here often even for just a day!!! its was not far from me and the autoroute expressway got me there in four hours legal speed driving time. Now it is almost double far but we have visited anyway.

In my road warrior trips all over Europe, I have done quite a bit in Luxembourg. Well easy to drive it been so small. We were in Luxembourg city wondering what to do next and saw a shopping center here, oooh well the wife got on and we came, simple as that…!

We drove north to Mersch, and here you have the Topaze shopping center and great bargains there too. But first let me tell you a bit about Mersch that we like for future visits.


Mersch is the administrative center of the town and canton of the same name. Located in the Alzette valley a tributary of the Sûre river, the town is located at the confluence of the Mamer and Eisch rivers . The geographical center of Luxembourg is located on the territory of the town!  The town is connected to the rail network by line 1, from Luxembourg to Troisvierges and has a train station at Mersch. It is connected to the national road network by the national roads N7 and N8 as well as by the A7.

From a tourist point of view even if we have not visited yet, you have here the castle erected by the first lord of Mersch, Theodoric, as a fortified castle in 1232. In 1574, the medieval building was made more comfortable cast; the keep is in particular provided with large windows. In 1603, during the disorder caused by the conflict between the King of Spain (who was also Duke of Luxembourg) and the Spanish Netherlands, the castle was burned down again. At the end of the 17C, Count Jean Frédéric d’Autel had the castle rebuilt in its current state. The town became the owner of the castle in 1957. In 1988, it installed its administration there as city and canton hall. The Saint-Michel Church was built in the mid-19C in the neoclassical style and the frescoes in the choir date from 1936. There is ,also, the menhir of Reckingen.

The city of Mersch on things to do in English brochures here: City of Mersch on heritage

The tourist office of Luxembourg on Mersch in English: Tourist office of Luxembourg on Mersch

Now we really came here for Topaze.  At Topaze shopping center located at Route de Colmar-Berg  easy access from the  N7 (where we were) or the autoroute A7 exit/Sortie N°5 Mierscherbierg. Here you can find more than 45 different brands on 2 floors .The Match supermarket is open Monday to Saturday from 8h and Sunday from 9h to 13h.  All stores open from 9h. The fitness center is open every day until 22h and Saturday-Sunday from 8h30  to 13h30 in upper floor . Free parking and gas/petro station very convinient.

The stores we like were the Supermarché Match ,Pizza Hut, C&A , H&M , and Mano shoes. We did some groceries, lunch at Pizza Hut as well for the good old time’s sake! The pizza hut info in English is here : Pizza Hut at Mersch shopping center


The official webpage for Topaze shopping center in French is here: Topaze shopping center

The tourist office of Luxembourg on the Topaze shopping center in English is here: Tourist office of Luxembourg on Topaze shopping center

And there you go a nice ride and wonderful shopping and our favorite pizza chain can’t beat the ride. If you combine that with picturesque beautiful Mersch, Luxembourg than you are in for a treat. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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